Introduction: Modern forensic investigations increasingly revert to 3D imaging techniques, such as computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and 3D surface imaging. Findings are therefore often based on 3D data sets; however, this information is commonly reported and communicated within 2D imagery. The use of interactive 3D PDFs is already established in the scientific community but has yet to be implemented in the field of forensic medicine.
Methods and materials: Three example cases were chosen to serve as exemplary data for the most commonly applied imaging techniques in postmortem imaging. 3D surface models were created from postmortem magnetic resonance imaging (PMMR), postmortem computed tomography (PMCT), and 3D surface imaging data sets.
Results: PMMR revealed a space-occupying subdural hemorrhage that led to ipsilateral compression of the brain tissue of the right hemisphere. PMCT displayed a defect in the skull on the left side of the temporal bone. 3D surface imaging data displayed a patterned discoloration on the inside of the left forearm.
Discussion: Interactive 3D PDFs offer the possibility to communicate 3D information to the reader while maintaining all the benefits of a regular 2D PDF. With Adobe Acrobat, the reader can interactively navigate through 3D data sets and create sufficient depth cues to generate a realistic 3D perception of the data.
Conclusion: The interactive 3D PDF is a useful extension of standard 2D PDFs and has the potential to communicate 3D data to the reader in a more complete, more comprehensible, and less subjective manner than 2D PDFs.